- Forum on Police Conduct During the RNC
- Public Hearing on Police Conduct During the RNC
- Courtwatch for RNC 8 Arrestees
- FBI Playbook for Handling RNC Protests
- FBI Seeks Even More Power to Squash Dissent
- The Story Behind the Raids and the RNC 8
- Don't Let the National Park Service Privatize the Inauguration Route
- Use of the Military to Clamp Down on Dissent
It has been a month since our last newsletter and very much has happened in that month. On a rather personal note, this editor has had some difficulty summing up all that has happened and getting to the point of being able to write about it. It's also just plain difficult to be in the middle of action and write about it at the same time.
While police brutality is the daily reality of people of color, homeless, low income people and others, the sheer coordination and repressive conduct of police during the RNC harkens a new level efforts to crush dissent. No free speech was tolerated during the RNC and new levels of terror and brutality were rained down on community activists just for opposing the Republican agenda. This conduct was supported and aided by elected officials including mayors and council members on both sides of the river. Now some are trying to worm out of what they unleashed by holding bogus "public" hearings (with hand-picked speakers), naming partisans to phony "independent" investigations, or calling for investigations they know will never materialize.
Both mayors have been effusive in their praise of police conduct--the same conduct that has left many activists bruised and battered and facing serious criminal charges. In this new climate, all police need do is invoke the "terrorism" word and they get a free pass to raid, beat, bomb, gas and arrest, with the grinning assent of elected officials. In the run-up to the annual October 22 National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, CUAPB will examine this new climate, what it means for all activists (not just those opposed to the current administration), and how it is likely to spill over toward people already feeling the boot of police oppression.
Forum on Police Conduct During the RNC
Tuesday, September 23
3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
Dave Bicking, Michelle Gross, and Charlie Underwood will present on their experiences with policing during the RNC. Michelle will show film footage shot by CUAPB copwatchers and others. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.
Public Hearing on Police Conduct During the RNC
Wednesday, September 24
St. Paul City Hall
15 Kellogg Blvd, Rm 300, St. Paul
This is the public hearing called by St. Paul City Councilmembers Dave Thune and Melvin Carter. It is being billed as a "community conversation about the RNC" but word has it that Thune has already hand-picked the "community" speakers, including at least one cop. Still, we are encouraging people to attend this and try to interject our voices.
Throughout this whole thing, Thune has tried to position himself as some kind of free speech hero. Let's not forget that he was the guy who held secret "free speech working group" meetings that he would never allow activists to attend or participate in. The outcome of that working group is the restrictive permitting ordinance in St. Paul that allows cops to decide if you can demonstrate and allows them to pull the permit at the last minute (as they did on Day 4 of the RNC, resulting in arrests of over 400 people). He's now trying to cover his ass by holding this little meeting but he still wants to control what gets talked about. Let's not let him.
Courtwatch for RNC 8 Arrestees
Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center
425 Grove St, Rm 102, St. Paul
September 24, 1:40 p.m.: Monica Bicking, Rob Czernik
October 2, 1:00 p.m.: Luce Guillen Givins
October 3, 1:00 p.m.: Garrett Fitzgerald
October 13, 1:00 p.m.: Eryn Trimmer, Eric Oseland, Nathaneal Secor, Max Spector
These are the eight people being charged with "conspiracy to riot in the furtherance of terrorism," despite the fact that they were all in jail for the entirety of the RNC. Apparently even planning protest is now illegal. By putting heavy charges on these people, the government is trying to criminalize dissent and hold them out as an example so that others will shy away from challenging its policies. We must stand up with these people and force the government to back down. Part of this battle is to be in court with them every time. We need to visibly support them at every turn. HANDS OFF THE RNC 8!
FBI PLAYBOOK FOR HANDLING RNC PROTESTS
FBI Bulletin #89 Facilitates Clampdown on Journalists, Activists
While written in 2003 to specifically address large antiwar protests in Washington DC and San Francisco, FBI Bulletin #89 appears to be the playbook for handling all protests against the current administration. A PDF of the actual memo is at http://www.aclu.org/FilesPDFs/fbi%20memo.pdf Note that it refers to the "activist training camps"--the same language used by Sheriff Bob Fletcher in his arrest of the RNC 8. The memo outlines a long list of alleged protester tactics, the same tactics noted by Fletcher & Co. in the search warrant applications that launched the spate of pre-RNC raids and arrests.
FBI Bulletin #89 refers to videotaping--the essence of copwatch and much independent journalism--as an "intimidation technique" against the cops. This explains the crackdown on media during the RNC. It matters not one whit that St. Paul's mayor Chris Coleman announced that they are dropping the charges against journalists such as Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. Charges against these journalists were never the point. The real deal was to prevent them from doing their job in the first place. To that end, the tactic was at least somewhat successful, though at least some videographers captured amazing images. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmQrWTRAZmA&fmt=6 to see an amazing compilation captured by a young man who buried his footage in a planter when he realized he was going to be arrested and went back and retrieved it after he was released from jail.
Much has been written about the arrest of Amy Goodman and even about the August 30th raid on the house where a number of independent journalists were staying. While these were outrageous attacks, people need to realize that the beating and arrest of Darryl Robinson on July 20th while he was copwatching was the first salvo in this clampdown on people who document police misconduct. We expect to continue to see these tactics used to prevent documentation of police and, in fact, incidents since the RNC indicate this will be the trend. In the last week, we have had copwatchers threatened with arrest during two separate incidents--by two different police agencies--for simply observing police conduct. It is notable that both police agencies participated in RNC activities and one is a small town agency. Clearly this is one "RNC lesson" that will be transferred to the community.
FBI SEEKS EVEN MORE POWER TO SQUASH DISSENT
FBI Outlines Plan to Expand Agents' Tactics; Hill Hearings Set
By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 13, 2008; A09
FBI officials yesterday briefed civil liberties advocates and religious groups on a plan to offer agents an array of tactics to track national security threats, as lawmakers prepared to demand more information at a pair of oversight hearings next week.
The ground rules, known as attorney general guidelines, have been in the works for nearly 18 months. Authorities say they are designed to harmonize the techniques that FBI agents can use to investigate ordinary crimes, collect foreign intelligence or pursue possible terrorist threats.
Under the new plan, agents pursuing national security leads could employ physical surveillance, deploy informants and engage in "pretext" interviews with their identities hidden to assess the danger posed by a subject. Such threat assessments could be initiated even without a particular fact or concrete lead that a person had engaged in wrongdoing.
Community activists and the American Civil Liberties Union, which attended yesterday's briefing, question how a subject's race, ethnicity or religious orientation might become part of attracting FBI interest.
A senior Justice Department official and a top FBI representative said race could never be the sole factor for opening an investigation. But it might be taken into account when investigators scrutinize groups, such as Hezbollah or the Aryan Brotherhood, that draw their members from specific populations, or, for example, when they follow leads about suspicious groups of Muslim men boarding an airplane.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III will appear next week before the House and Senate Judiciary committees, where lawmakers say he will be asked about the timing and rationale for overhauling the rules. House and Senate Democrats already are characterizing the move as a last-ditch bid to change intelligence-gathering only weeks before the presidential election.
But senior FBI and Justice officials, who briefed reporters on the condition that they not be identified, asserted that the changes were merely the latest in a series of steps to make the bureau more proactive after intelligence failures before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The measures are scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, though changes still could be made in some areas, including ground rules for FBI agents who secretly infiltrate activist groups or collect intelligence at public demonstrations and events without a suspected terrorist threat. [emphasis added--ed.]
The plan also would allow FBI agents to collect information in the United States on behalf of foreign intelligence authorities, as long as their participation aligned with U.S. interests. It would allow agents to gather intelligence from citizens within the United States about areas of general interest, such as Venezuelan oil supply, at the direction of the White House or the director of national intelligence.
Michael German, a policy counsel at the ACLU, urged lawmakers to do a "thorough investigation" of the guidelines and the way they will work in practice. More than 30 years ago, "the abuse of these authorities is exactly what caused the department to create the guidelines in the first place," he said.
THE STORY BEHIND THE RAIDS AND THE RNC 8--AND HOW IT RELATES TO WHAT OTHER COMMUNITIES EXPERIENCE DAILY
It is very good to see a REAL story on the round-up of the RNC 8 activists. It shows how law enforcement agencies use ordinary household items to condemn people. This is not a new story in the Black community, however. Police have used the presence of zip top sandwich bags, measuring spoons, food scales and other common kitchen items in people's homes to tag people as drug dealers. During the raids that occurred August 29-31, at least six houses and the convergence space were descended on. People's homes were torn up looking for any shred of something that could be used against them and many people were detained and arrested. Two people were arrested kidnap-style by cops jumping out of moving vehicles.
These tactics are not new to the Black community. The "jump out boys"--paramilitary cops that zoom up to homes and barrel out of the back of a windowless white van--have been a fixture on the Northside for years. These cops execute no-knock searches on homes on the Northside on a regular basis. Many times the basis for the raid is bad information from a snitch. In addition to forcing people--including children--to the floor at gunpoint, these units beat some people severely and sweep others off to jail on the flimsiest basis. They leave the homes they search in unlivable condition, often smashing apart sinks and toilets looking for drugs. CUAPB has documented many cases involving the jump out boys over the years.
FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE ANARCHISTS...
By Mordecai Specktor | Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008
My son Max was arraigned at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center on Wednesday, Sept. 3. He's in serious legal trouble.
In the aftermath of the Republican National Convention and the arrests of more than 800 protesters, journalists and bystanders in the Twin Cities Max and seven others, the alleged ringleaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee, have been charged with conspiracy to commit riot in the furtherance of terrorism.
That's right, terrorism.
When the AJW went to press [the first week of September], Max was being held in the Ramsey County jail. He was kept in solitary confinement for more than two days, with no reading material, nothing. At the arraignment, the prosecutor asked for $75,000 bail; but Larry Leventhal, Max's attorney, successfully argued that the amount was excessive and the judge reduced it to $10,000.
At around 8 p.m. on that Wednesday, Max was released from jail. Sheriff's deputies were instructed to drive Max, along with a young woman from Cleveland, some distance away from the jail. They were dropped off at a Holiday gas station on University Avenue near Vandalia.
(After arranging for Max's bail bond, I attended the taping of "The Daily Show." Jon Stewart's hilarious political satire relieved some of the stress in what was one of the craziest, most surreal weeks in my life. Earlier in the day, I attended a luncheon for visiting Israeli diplomats, including Ambassador Sallai Meridor, at the home of Ruth Usem. There was a crowd of Jewish machers, local and national, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison. Of course, I bent the ears of several luncheon attendees with the tale of my incarcerated son.)
On Thursday, I was in contact with Larry Leventhal, and a press conference was called for 3 p.m. at his office. Local TV and newspaper reporters and photographers, reporters from local blogs and alternative press outlets, and a producer from Al Jazeera (which covered the RNC) crowded into the cozy conference room.
Bruce Nestor, attorney for Max's codefendant Monica Bicking and president of the Minnesota branch of the National Lawyers Guild, acted as the press conference emcee. Max and three of his codefendants Luce Guillen-Givens, Nathanael Secor and Rob Czernik were present, along with three lawyers, Nestor, Leventhal and Jordan Kushner. The lawyers did not allow their clients to speak, in light of the serious charges they faced and the possibility that they might say something that would be taken out of context and used against them in court.
I spoke at the press conference, as did Klea Fitzgerald, mother of Garrett Fitzgerald, one of the eight defendants; Max's other co-defendants, Erik Oseland, Eryn Trimmer, Bicking and Fitzgerald, were not in attendance.
The complaint in the case of the RNCWC 8 (shades of the Chicago 8, from another political convention brouhaha) contains lurid allegations about kidnapping Republican delegates, throwing Molotov cocktails, attacking law enforcement officers and burning tires on the freeway. The allegations are based on statements made by police plants in the group CRIs, "confidential reliable informants."
"The charges in this case are supported only by allegations of paid confidential informants," Nestor told the reporters. "A number of the attorneys here have experience in investigations with the use of informants in political cases. We are concerned about the potential use of provocateurs, people who purposely plan and bring up discussions of violence, in order to get other people to respond and then report back that those discussions occurred. The confidential informants are paid based on the value of the information they provide. They have a clear incentive to exaggerate and lie about the information."
Nestor added that the allegations of kidnapping and violence, the "most outrageous allegations" made by the authorities and the basis for the Aug. 30 SWAT team raids on three south Minneapolis homes "are not supported by any evidence other than the statements of the confidential informants, they're not supported by the evidence seized."
Which brings us to the pails of urine. Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher proudly displayed 5-gallon pails of "urine" at a press conference following the raids. The anarchists ostensibly were fashioning IUDs (improvised urine devices) to use against cops and Republicans, according to the police authorities. The search warrants for the Aug. 30 SWAT team raids specified "urine and feces."
However, Nestor said that the "urine" seized was mostly "kitchen gray water" and had nothing to do with any of the defendants. Nestor also noted that "common household items" glass bottles, rags and charcoal starter fluid, found in different locations in various houses have repeatedly been referred to in news reports as bomb-making materials.
Warrant items not found
"We have search warrants seeking gun powder, explosive materials, Molotov cocktails, none of which were found," Nestor said. "We have the sheriff displaying a single plastic item, which he claims is a shield; as if, somehow, one shield was going to protect demonstrators from 3,500 armed riot police who have projectile tear gas weapons."
Nestor concluded that the authorities have recklessly wielded the "terrorism charge" so that any political activist involved in planning civil disobedience could be labeled as a "domestic terrorist."
Attorney Larry Leventhal told the reporters that the complaint does not allege that any of the defendants physically attacked anybody or even "broke a window."
The complaints against the eight defendants, according to Leventhal, weave "a narrative of various meetings that they claim occurred over a number of years. … We have, basically, [the authorities] saying, Here are some people, they've associated with other bad people, and those people have done bad things. If we were to accept the standard that people who associate with others who may do bad things are subject to arrest and that certainly should not be a standard in a civilized society but if that were the standard, there's a lot of delegates who are in the Xcel Center that have been associating with bad people who have done very bad things."
Leventhal termed the case a "political prosecution," which is characterized by people being targeted and arrested for "their thoughts, for their ideas which may be different from the reigning political powers' rather than for things they have done."
Then Leventhal introduced me to the press, noting that I was editor and publisher of the American Jewish World newspaper, and was in St. Paul covering the Republican National Convention.
I talked about Max and mentioned his educational background, including his being a confirmand of the Temple of Aaron Synagogue religious school and a graduate of the Talmud Torah of St. Paul Midrasha program. I'll add here that Max earned his Golden Kipa at the Temple of Aaron, an honor bestowed to post-B'nai Mitzva kids who do 10 Torah readings. At age 19, Max is beginning his junior year at the University of Minnesota (he took a lot of college-level courses during his final two years at Minneapolis South High).
Appeal to journalists
"As you heard from the lawyers, the criminal complaint here is farfetched, overblown, outrageous," I said. "I'm in the newspaper business, so I encourage all of the journalists here to look into the specifics of this complaint and see where the truth really lies."
Finally, I put my arm around Max's shoulders and said, "This is your domestic terrorist take a good look. I don't believe it at all. Give me a break."
After the 50-minute press conference, there was a meeting of defendants and lawyers, and one parent. Then I took off on foot for West Seventh Street and the heavily fortified Xcel Energy Center for the final night of the RNC, during which Sen. John McCain would accept his party's nomination for president.
The case against Max and his co-defendants is in a preliminary stage, so it's difficult to see how things will develop. The lawyers are waiting for the government to produce evidence backing up the many allegations in the criminal complaints.
As you might imagine, as a journalist I've been scouring the Web for press accounts of this case. Chris Hedges, a veteran journalist (Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, etc.) and author, posted an incisive article about the scene in St. Paul last week on Truthdig.com.
"The rise of the corporate state means the rise of the surveillance state," Hedges wrote. "The Janus-like face of America swings from packaged and canned spectacles, from nationalist slogans, from seas of flags and Christian crosses, from professions of faith and patriotism, to widespread surveillance, illegal mass detentions, informants, provocateurs and crude acts of repression and violence. We barrel toward a world filled with stupendous lies and blood."
Minnesota version of Patriot Act
The prosecution of Max and the others, as Hedges noted, is the "first time criminal charges have been filed under the 2002 Minnesota version of the federal Patriot Act. The Patriot Act, which was put in place as much to silence domestic opposition as to ferret out real terrorists, has largely lain dormant. It has authorized the government to monitor our phone conversations, e-mails, meetings and political opinions. It has authorized the government to shut down anti-war groups and lock up innocents as terrorists. It has abolished habeas corpus. But until now we have not grasped its full implications for our open society. We catch glimpses, as in St. Paul or in our offshore penal colonies where we torture detainees, of its awful destructive power."
Also, Glenn Greenwald, a former constitutional law and civil rights litigator, writing on Salon.com, has done a great job covering RNC-related acts of repression.
The daily newspapers in the Twin Cities have not distinguished themselves covering this particular aspect of the RNC story. At least, their sins of omission are less egregiously awful than the swill ("Having a Riot in St. Paul: Cops put the hurt on 'anarchist' protesters") written for Newsweek magazine's Web site by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball.
This duo functions like the record-and-playback device on a tape recorder, regurgitating statements by various police agents "battling a shadowy neo-anarchist group that was allegedly plotting to disrupt the convention by kidnapping delegates, hurling Molotov cocktails and committing other acts of 'guerrilla warfare.' " In fact, these "shadowy" anarchists put all of their statements up on a Web site (nornc.org) for the world to see. And, as it is now clear, they also opened their meetings and their hearts to an undercover cop and at least two police informants who apparently played them for financial gain.
I'm not an objective journalist in this matter. I'm expressing my views and feelings about recent events. I'm a father whose son is in a great deal of trouble. Max doesn't want me singling him out for attention; to his credit, he wants equal recognition for his co-defendants. He sees that they're all in this together. I think we're all in this together.
After the SWAT team raids, the police barricades, the riot squads, the tear gas and pepper spray, and the mass arrests of demonstrators, the Republicans gave their hechsher to the McCain-Palin ticket and left town. Our civil liberties especially free speech and freedom of the press took a beating here last week. The events in the Twin Cities last week provide a grim portent of things to come in America. We have to take a long careful look at what happened, and figure out how to reweave our civil society.
Mordecai Specktor is editor of the American Jewish World, in which this article first appeared.
IMPORTANT--AND RELATED--CALL FOR ACTION
Don't Let the National Park Service Privatize the Inauguration Route
Tell the government: Pennsylvania Ave. Belongs to the People
Bush Administration proposes new regulations - comment period closing
A ground breaking free speech legal victory in federal court has opened up Pennsylvania Avenue for "We the People" on Inauguration Day.
Unless you and thousands of others take action today, however, that courtroom victory could be effectively overturned by a new set of regulations proposed by the Bush Administration's National Park Service.
"The Inauguration is not a private event," ruled U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman on March 20, 2008. Judge Friedman declared unconstitutional the practice of the National Park Service of exempting the Presidential Inaugural Committee from the ordinary permit process in order to give that private political advocacy organization exclusive rights to exclude the public from along the Inaugural Parade route.
The ruling capped a nearly four year challenge by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition represented by the Partnership for Civil Justice. The Coalition stood up for thousands of anti-war protesters and political dissenters who - - like the general public - - have been excluded from communicating their views along the quadrennial Inaugural Parade route.
The victory was so resounding that the U.S. Government did not even appeal the ruling.
That courtroom victory is in jeopardy. We need your help, to take just a couple minutes of your time right now to protect free speech along the Presidential Inaugural Parade route by sending a comment to the National Park Service.
You Can Make a Difference By Acting Now
Tell the NPS that you do not want the land that belongs to the public along "America's Main Street" of Pennsylvania Avenue privatized and set aside for the exclusive use of the private Presidential Inaugural Committee to sell to the wealthy corporations on America's Inauguration Day. Click here to send your comment now. Help flood them with thousands of comments and tell your friends and family to join in this effort.
The Bush Administration's National Park Service has re-written its regulations in response to the court ruling. Again, the regulations set aside prime swaths of the Inaugural Parade route for the exclusive use of the corporate donor friends of the incoming administration. The period for public comment closes in a few days, September 22, - so act now by clicking here to send your comment on these proposed regulations.
USE OF MILITARY TO CLAMP DOWN ON DISSENT
During the RNC, National Guard soldiers were seen in the streets while Coast Guard cutters patrolled the Mississippi river. Despite prohibitions against military units being used domestically under the Posse Comitatus Act (except National Guard units assigned to the states during natural disasters), these units have started to emerge as reinforcements for police in these "unitary command" situations such as during the DNC and RNC. Check out the list of supposed "non-lethals" items--including Tasers--they will be trained to unleash on the civilian population.
The introduction below was written by Andy Driscoll, who hosts Truth to Tell every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. on KFAI http://www.kfai.org/node/682
Read this and tremble: As far we know, the use of the military in domestic or civil activities is prohibited by law, except the national guard units which fall under the authority and aegis of the states.
This new unit and its multi-branch agencies are being formed to help with anything but natural disasters. These units will train for putting down "civil unrest" (a label easily applies to street demonstration and dissenting assemblies.
The following story is told from the Pollyanna view of an Army Times reporter, not from an objective analyst's. Inside these paragraphs are some frightening realities, among them the fact that multiple units of all service branches are training to do what local police now do, except that the full weight of Defense Department deployment of military force will take over our streets much the way the 3,700-strong police force locked down St. Paul and the Target Center during the RNC.
It may seem benign reading through this, but once you understand the nature and danger of this illegal use of American military forces on civil setting, you can filter this information through that lens and know that we're watching the launch of a new level of uniformed armed and armored security forces ready to clamp down on organized dissent inside the United States, again, heretofore utterly unlawful.
Now is the time for Congress to step into this fray and put the brakes on before too much time, money and effort has gone into implementing these insidious plans, all of which would be viewed as having gone too far to go back now. Wrong. Read this carefully.
This is no paranoid fear here. This and the POW camps erected over the last several years in several parts of the country are.
ARMY COMBAT TEAM TO DEPLOY OCTOBER 1 FOR CIVIL SECURITY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT RESPONSE
MONDAY, 15. SEPTEMBER 2008, 02:14:29
Gina Cavallaro of ArmyTimes reports that Brigade Homeland Tours Start Oct. 1, 2008 as the 3rd Infantry¹s 1st BCT trains for a new dwell-time mission.
Helping "people at home" may become a permanent part of the active Army
The 3rd Infantry Division¹s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.
Now they¹re training for the same mission--with a twist--at home.
Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, NORTHCOM, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.
It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas.
But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.
After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one.
"Right now, the response force requirement will be an enduring mission. How the [Defense Department] chooses to source that and whether or not they continue to assign them to NorthCom, that could change in the future," said Army Col. Louis Vogler, chief of NorthCom future operations. "Now, the plan is to assign a force every year."
The command is at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., but the soldiers with 1st BCT, who returned in April after 15 months in Iraq, will operate out of their home post at Fort Stewart, Ga., where they¹ll be able to go to school, spend time with their families and train for their new homeland mission as well as the counterinsurgency mission in the war zones.
Stop-loss will not be in effect, so soldiers will be able to leave the Army or move to new assignments during the mission, and the operational tempo will be variable.
Don¹t look for any extra time off, though. The at-home mission does not take the place of scheduled combat-zone deployments and will take place during the so-called dwell time a unit gets to reset and regenerate after a deployment.
The 1st of the 3rd is still scheduled to deploy to either Iraq or Afghanistan in early 2010, which means the soldiers will have been home a minimum of 20 months by the time they ship out.
In the meantime, they'll learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it.
They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control [emphasis added--ed.] or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.
Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the "jaws of life" to extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.
The 1st BCT¹s soldiers also will learn how to use "the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded," 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.
"It's a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they¹re fielding. They¹ve been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we¹re undertaking we were the first to get it."
The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.
"I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered," said Cloutier, describing the experience as "your worst muscle cramp ever--times 10 throughout your whole body."
"I'm not a small guy, I weigh 230 pounds ... it put me on my knees in seconds."
The brigade will not change its name, but the force will be known for the next year as a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF (pronounced "sea-smurf").
"I can't think of a more noble mission than this," said Cloutier, who took command in July. "We've been all over the world during this time of conflict, but now our mission is to take care of citizens at home ... and depending on where an event occurred, you¹re going home to take care of your home town, your loved ones."
While soldiers' combat training is applicable, he said, some nuances don¹t apply.
"If we go in, we're going in to help American citizens on American soil, to save lives, provide critical life support, help clear debris, restore normalcy and support whatever local agencies need us to do, so it's kind of a different role," said Cloutier, who, as the division operations officer on the last rotation, learned of the homeland mission a few months ago while they were still in Iraq.
Some brigade elements will be on call around the clock, during which time they¹ll do their regular marksmanship, gunnery and other deployment training. That¹s because the unit will continue to train and reset for the next deployment, even as it serves in its CCMRF mission.
Should personnel be needed at an earthquake in California, for example, all or part of the brigade could be scrambled there, depending on the extent of the need and the specialties involved.
Other branches included
The active Army's new dwell-time mission is part of a NorthCom and DOD response package.
Active-duty soldiers will be part of a force that includes elements from other military branches and dedicated National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Teams.
A final mission rehearsal exercise is scheduled for mid-September at Fort Stewart and will be run by Joint Task Force Civil Support, a unit based out of Fort Monroe, Va., that will coordinate and evaluate the interservice event.
In addition to 1st BCT, other Army units will take part in the two-week training exercise, including elements of the 1st Medical Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas, and the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Bragg, N.C.
There also will be Air Force engineer and medical units, the Marine Corps Chemical, Biological Initial Reaction Force, a Navy weather team and members of the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
One of the things Vogler said they'll be looking at is communications capabilities between the services.
"It is a concern, and we¹re trying to check that and one of the ways we do that is by having these sorts of exercises. Leading up to this, we are going to rehearse and set up some of the communications systems to make sure we have interoperability," he said.
"I don't know what America's overall plan is--I just know that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are standing by to come and help if they're called," Cloutier said. "It makes me feel good as an American to know that my country has dedicated a force to come in and help the people at home."